Is time managing you?
Have you noticed how busy we all are? How nobody seems to have any time any more? Time is a precious commodity for entrepreneurs and few seem to have enough of it.
When you love what you do, it’s not always easy to find things that you want to drop. For me that that means that there are simply not enough hours in the day to fit in everything that I want to do.
Time seems to race by when we are doing things we enjoy and drags when we have to do something we find difficult or unenjoyable. Conversely, Parkinson’s law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
When it comes to organising ourselves and our businesses, we need to take control, and we need to take responsibility. We all have the same 24 hours – and once time is spent we can’t get it back!
So, do you manage your time, or does time manage you?
Strategic Time Management
If I asked you what your company’s long-term strategy is, could you immediately give me a meaningful answer? How about your medium-term objectives? Or even your short-term goals?
The chances are that as a small or medium-sized business owner, you’re so busy fighting metaphorical fires, dealing with day-to-day issues and reacting to things as they happen, that you’re not giving yourself enough time out of your business to see – and plan – the bigger picture.
There’s a Buddhist saying that “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” And the same goes for prioritising thinking time in business.
As an entrepreneur, you will reap untold rewards by scheduling a non-negotiable minimum one hour per week of undistracted thinking time to work on your business – to plan, strategise and allow yourself to figure out exactly where you want your business to go and how you’re going to get there.
Tactical Time Management
I’ve read a few articles that refer to “managing” time versus “making” time and they really made me think about how I structure my day.
If, like me, you’re used to juggling tasks, reacting, ticking things off lists, and making lots of decisions, you may struggle to get into a space that is ‘clear’ enough for you to create – both practically (i.e. diary space) and psychologically (i.e. head space).
When my head is too full of things that need doing, especially the pressing ‘little but urgent’ things, I find it difficult to get into a creative space, for example, writing this blog post or content for our REAL Entrepreneurs Community.
It rarely works for me to try and squeeze something creative in between meetings or other activities. I find I need a clear slot, preferably early in the day, which I have planned – and informed my brain – in advance!
On the other hand, if you’re naturally more creative you may struggle to concentrate on more functional tasks when all those exciting new ideas are running around your head.
We are all wired differently and getting in tune with what works for you is really important.
Think about your daily, weekly and monthly rhythms. Are you naturally a night owl, or a lark? Do you have high energy on a Monday morning, but need “time out” on a Wednesday afternoon? Do you feel more creative hunkered up with a mug of hot tea during the cold, dark and miserable months of winter, or do you need the warmth, fresh air and bright sunshine of the summer to spark new ideas?
Consider when you feel at your best, when you are most open to doing creative tasks, and when you have the motivation to get on with more functional jobs. Identify what works for you, create a routine or schedule, and stick to it!
If you want to get a big task done that’s going to require a lot of your energy and creativity, then avoid checking your email before you get started. Research shows that we are much less productive after checking our email than beforehand because little bits of our brain are focused on each of those things we know we need to do, people we need to speak to, emails we need to respond to….
One last word of advice…
As I mentioned above, time is precious – once it is gone, you cannot get it back. When you have identified the best way of working for you, articulate your boundaries to your team, clients and loved ones, and strictly enforce them. Guard your time jealously. If you do not respect your own time, then you cannot expect others to either.
Whatever you plan to do with your time, I wish you good fortune. As Stephen Hawking once said ‘Only time – whatever that may be – will tell!’ If you’re planning to grow your business, or simply looking to create more time and space to allow you to work on your business rather than in it all of the time, please get in touch.
Lisa Zevi – Co-Founder of REAL Business Builders